Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES LLOYD. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO JAMES LLOYD. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO JAMES LLOYD.
Quincy, 31 March, 1815.
Before I proceed to St. Domingo, I have a few words more to say. And, after all, I expect to forget and omit more than half that I ought to say. In my last, I hinted at the happy conclusion of the peace with France in 1801, and its fortunate effects and consequences. Here, Sir, I must ask indulgence. I cannot repent of my “strong character.” Whether I have one or not, I know not. I am not conscious of any character stronger than common. If I have such a nature, it was given me. I shall neither be rewarded nor punished for it. For all my foibles, strong or weak, I hold myself responsible to God and man. I hope to be forgiven for what I humbly acknowledge I cannot justify, and not be too severely censured for what, in my circumstances, “humana parum cavet natura.” I did not humble France, nor have the combined efforts of emperors and kings humbled her, and, I hope, she never will be humbled below Austria, Russia, or England. But I humbled the French Directory as much as all Europe has humbled Bonaparte. I purchased navy yards, which would now sell for double their cost with compound interest. I built frigates, manned a navy, and selected officers with great anxiety and care, who perfectly protected our commerce, and gained virgin victories against the French, and who afterwards acquired such laurels in the Mediterranean, and who have lately emblazoned themselves and their country with a naval glory, which I tremble to think of. God forbid that American naval power should ever be such a scourge to the human race as that of Great Britain has been! I was engaged in the most earnest, sedulous, and, I must own, expensive exertions to preserve peace with the Indians, and prepare them for agriculture and civilization, through the whole of my administration. I had the inexpressible satisfaction of complete success. Not a hatchet was lifted in my time; and the single battle of Tippecanoe has since cost the United States a hundred times more money than it cost me to maintain universal and perpetual peace. I finished the demarcation of limits, and settled all controversies with Spain. I made the composition with England, for all the old Virginia debts, and all the other American debts, the most snarling, angry, thorny, scabreux negotiation that ever mortal ambassador, king, prince, emperor, or president was ever plagued with. I say I made it, and so I did, though the treaty was not ratified till Jefferson came in. My labors were indefatigable to compose all difficulties and settle all controversies with all nations, civilized and savage. And I had complete and perfect success, and left my country at peace with all the world, upon terms consistent with the honor and interest of the United States, and with all our relations with other nations, and all our obligations by the law of nations or by treaties. This is so true, that no nation or individual ever uttered a complaint of injury, insult, or offence. I had suppressed an insurrection in Pennsylvania, and effectually humbled and punished the insurgents; not by assembling an army of militia from three or four States, and marching in all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of war, at an expense of millions, but silently, without noise, and at a trifling expense. I pardoned Fries; and what would a triumphant, victorious, and intoxicated party, not to say faction, under the “command-in-chief” of John Randolph, have done with honest Judge Chase and Judge Peters, if I had hanged him? But I am not about to laugh off this question. What good, what example would have been exhibited to the nation by the execution of three or four obscure, miserable Germans, as ignorant of our language as they were of our laws, and the nature and definition of treason? Pitiful puppets danced upon the wires of jugglers behind the scene or under ground. But I am not going to make an apology here. Had the mountebanks been in the place of the puppets, mercy would have had a harder struggle to obtain absolution for them.
The verdict of a jury, and the judgment of the court, would, to be sure, have justified me in the opinion of the nation, and in the judgment of the world, if I had signed the warrant for their execution; but neither, nor both, could have satisfied my conscience, nor tranquillized my feelings. If I had entertained only a doubt of their guilt, notwithstanding verdicts and judgments, it was my duty to pardon them. But my determination did not rest upon so wavering a foundation as a doubt.
My judgment was clear, that their crime did not amount to treason. They had been guilty of a high-handed riot and rescue, attended with circumstances hot, rash, violent, and dangerous, but all these did not amount to treason. And I thought the officers of the law had been injudicious in indicting them for any crime higher than riot, aggravated by rescue. Here I rest my cause on this head, and proceed to another.
As I am not now writing a history of my administration, I will sum up all I have to say in a few words. I left my country in peace and harmony with all the world, and after all my “extravagant expenses” and “wanton waste of public money,” I left navy yards, fortifications, frigates, timber, naval stores, manufactories of cannon and arms, and a treasury full of five millions of dollars. This was all done step by step, against perpetual oppositions, clamors and reproaches, such as no other President ever had to encounter, and with a more feeble, divided, and incapable support than has ever fallen to the lot of any administration before or since. For this I was turned out of office, degraded and disgraced by my country; and I was glad of it. I felt no disgrace, because I felt no remorse. It has given me fourteen of the happiest years of my life; and I am certain I could not have lasted one year more in that station, shackled in the chains of that arbitrary faction.
As I had been intimately connected with Mr. Jefferson in friendship and affection for five-and-twenty years, I well knew his crude and visionary notions of government as well as his learning, taste, and talent in other arts and sciences. I expected his reign would be very nearly what it has been. I regretted it, but could not help it. At the same time, I thought it would be better than following the fools who were intriguing to plunge us into an alliance with England, an endless war with all the rest of the world, and wild expeditions to South America and St. Domingo; and, what was worse than all the rest, a civil war, which I knew would be the consequence of the measures the heads of that party wished to pursue.